What If…?

What if there is nothing wrong with me?  What if there is nothing wrong with you?

apocalypse-statue-of-libertyIn this very difficult and scary time when the world we thought we knew seems to be disintegrating it becomes important to ground and center in spiritual truth.  No, I am not advocating a head in the sand, ignore the pain, and pretend everything is happening for the best attitude.  I’m suggesting that we reinforce our relationship with our humanity, with our inner goodness, with our strength of character.  I am suggesting we remember and ground ourselves in the benefactor qualities of the human race.

Because we can imagine and act on our imagination humans have created many amazing, beautiful, and positive things in this world.  We have also created, through imagination and action, genocide, poverty, destruction, hatred, bigotry, and war.  As we know the beginning of both heaven and hell reside in the use of our own mind.  It resides in the way we think and speak of others and the way we think and speak about ourselves.  As we become overwhelmed by hearing and seeing the dark side of human behavior let us also look for and listen to the good in our young people, in the actions of our brothers and sisters around the globe.  Let us remember that hard times call for heroic action.  The heroes of old are calling your name.  Many children, women, and men are listening and responding in protection, compassion, and a renewed sense of purpose.  Protecting all of life we nurture and defend what is precious.

hand-846092_1280-2-custom-1Here are some things to consider as you cultivate the hero within you:

*You are living your life the best you know how and attempting to get better every day.

*You make mistakes, like everyone else, which allows you to gain wisdom.

*You’re unique, whether you’re introverted or extroverted, practical or a dreamer, technical or artistic, book smart or street smart…however you are…you are the only person just like you on the planet.

*If you do what you enjoy and don’t harm other beings, you’re living a beautiful life.

*You will never become someone because you already are someone.

*If someone hurt, you…you didn’t deserve it…no one does…and it didn’t happen because of karma.

*It’s OK to feel your emotions and respond to them.  If you need to improve the way you respond; well everyone could use some improvement in that area.

Chaos, confusion, darkness, fear, anger, grief…these are all perfectly understandable emotions in this time of upheaval and potential destruction of the values we were taught was the American Way.  The Buddha once said, being with what is we can respond (not react) to what is.  We respond by knowing who and what we love- the Earth, the animals, the children, compassion, generosity, and fearlessness.  We respond by maintaining the knowledge of our inner goodness and working to create a world we can proudly leave to our children.

obi-wan-kenobi-star-wars-alec-guiness

And if, like the Jedi, many of us are destroyed, then like the Jedi we will rise again and defeat the darkness of hatred, greed, and anger.  The Force is with us!  We are unstoppable!

The Word, The Will, The Way

divine-sparkIn the beginning was the word.  The word was with the Divine and the word was the Divine.  All things were made by the word and without the word nothing was made.  In the beginning the Divine sent out sparks from itself, sparks of potential love, kindness, compassion, and generosity.  Some of these sparks became angels of light and some incarnated as humans into the earth worlds.  Each spark held the ability to activate the Divine Mission of Grace and Benevolence but few understood how to properly use the word, the will, and the way.  And so chaos, confusion, and the darkness of selfishness became manifest causing extreme suffering for all life.

Every human on our planet is a spark of Divine Potential a piece of the Great Plan of Grace and Blessing intended from the beginning of time.  Potential means: possible or likely although not yet actual; powers or resources not yet developed or made use of; a latent possibility.  Therefore, when we have not yet discovered or manifested our divine purpose, we must incarnate again and again to demonstrate our part of the Divine Mission.

nytimes-word-cloud_2In order to accomplish this, humans have been gifted with the word, the will, and the way.  The word is thought, focused intention and attention on what we believe, know, and consider important.  Words are constantly filling our mind.  Even in meditation we notice thought/words and decide not to focus on them.  The word/thought we continually pay attention to, believe and know is true becomes infused with Will.  Will is thought fortified through emotions.  When the word/thought is present and we engage our feelings and emotions with that thought it becomes manifest.  The manifestation of thought/word as a tangible experience is the creation of the Way.

Example: If I am convinced that I’m not very smart, or confident, or lovable there will be a dialogue taking place in my mind that persuades me this is true.  It may be the inner voices of my parents, teachers, or the words may be coming from remembering a past event which didn’t turn out the way I wanted.  When I have those thoughts/words I have emotions that arise- fear; anger; sadness; disappointment; or pain.  Therefore, when encountering a new situation or individual I have already decided how it will turn out and most likely that will be the case.  I have used my words, my will, against myself to create a way that proves I am a loser.

If you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always got.  If you think what you’ve always thought, you will feel how you’ve always felt.  If you feel what you’ve always felt, you will get what you’ve always got.

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The power of the word, will, and way is irrefutable.  We can see it clearly in the lives of people around us and if we look we will see it in our lives as well.  But we are NOT POWERLESS!  Inside each of us is a Great Being waiting to be actualized through thoughts, feelings, and acts of loving kindness, compassion for all life, generosity to those in need; determination to bless instead of curse; and a fearless heart that refuses to accept the suffering of the world.

We have two selves.  A small, self-centered, egocentric self and a Great, selfless, benevolent self.  Everyone has activated the egocentric self that’s how we got our ticket to this life.  Few have taken the energy necessary to activate the infinite potential of Great Self.  Spirituality is the path out of suffering and into becoming the answer to all the prayers pouring out to Divine Spirit every minute of every day.

Monitor the words you say to yourself.  Change those words to kindness and compassion.  When you immerse in loving kindness to self give kindness away to others- the Way of Love, the Way of Grace, the Way of Blessing will manifest all around you.  What we focus on increases.

Remember, we can only add our piece to the great picture of Divine Goodness so we may be disappointed that our efforts don’t change the entire world.  But if we refuse to add our spark to the Divine Goodness Mission nothing will ever change.

In this time of fear, doubt, and disillusionment it’s essential that people of good heart, everywhere, use the power Divine Spirit has entrusted to us (The Word,The Will, The Way) to ensure that All beings shall be freed from suffering!

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A Christmas Story

Once upon a time Mama and Papa Light and the angels were getting ready for the birth of the baby Jesus.  Everyone was very excited.  Everyone wanted to participate, and everyone wanted to help.  There were many jobs to be done, but there were also many, many angels who wanted to do those jobs.  So Mama and Papa Light decided to hold auditions to see who would be best suited for each job.

angels-artwork-christmasThe first auditions were for those angels who would sing in the Hallelujah choir. These angels would announce the baby’s birth to the shepherds near Bethlehem, singing Hallelujah! Glory to God in the highest! Peace on earth! Good will to all!

Many angels applied for the job and were accepted. But one angel couldn’t sing quite as well as the others.  One little angel was rejected because he had a scratchy voice.  Angels were also needed to keep the Christmas star bright.  Many angels applied and were accepted. Each angel smiled brightly at getting such an important job.  But our little scratchy-voiced angel was also a little sloppy.  Although his smile was bright, he always had cookie crumbs on his face and his robe didn’t fit right.  All those things got in the way of his brightness.

anime-boy-angel-with-brown-hair-images-pictures-becuo-3500685Soon after Jesus’ birth, an angel was needed to help the holy family to get safely to Egypt and away from King Herod of Judea.  This angel would need to protect the family on their long journey. Our little scratchy-voiced, sloppy angel applied for that job, too, but he was too fat to fit into the armor. So our scratchy-voiced, sloppy, fat angel did not get any of the jobs needed for Jesus’ mission – not the messenger job to tell the 12-year-old Jesus to stay behind at the temple and learn from the rabbis, while his parents waited for him; not the job of being with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane; nor the job of guarding Jesus’ tomb after the crucifixion and telling of his resurrection.

The little angel participated as best he could from afar during Jesus’ lifetime and during the annual birthday of the Christ child and of course all the celebrations of the resurrection.  But our little angel did spend most of his time playing and eating cookies.

lluu8Many years went by and the annual birthday celebration seemed to lose its meaning.  People no longer shared love and joy. They just thought about what to buy and how to be safe in their own houses.  It seemed that the world was becoming dark again.  Mama and Papa Light decided they needed to do something to bring the light back. They opened a job position for an angel who could bring love, joy, and the spirit of the giveaway back to Christmas.  Many angels applied and many were rejected.

The scratchy-voiced, sloppy, fat angel, looking at the many angels who were applying for the job, decided not to apply.  Instead he took his cookies and went to sit in a corner. After all the angels had applied for the job and been turned down, Mama Light said, “This is a very special job that will take a very special angel.  Where’s the scratchy-voice, sloppy, fat little angel?

“Santa Claus come here.  This job is for you.” Mama Light said.

Santa Claus’ mouth fell open. “Who me?”

santa-claus-04Mama Light handed the angel a red, furry suit, just his size, saying, “I have made you a special furry suit to wear for this job.  It is bright red for joy, and soft and furry for love.”

Papa Light then said, “You will need helpers in order to create the millions of toys that you will be taking to the children of the world.  Here are some elves that will assist you.”

Then He said, “I have created a special home of light for you at the North Pole.  It can only be seen by children who have pure hearts.  From there you will be taking presents to children all over the world, and so you will need transportation.  Here is a sleigh and reindeer to pull it.”

Santa Claus was so happy to have found his special job that he laughed out loud, deep and clear.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

And to this day Santa Claus brings love and joy to all the children at Christmas time.  The children, knowing his love of cookies, are always sure to leave him a plate of on Christmas Eve.  And on Christmas morning, all that are left of those cookies are the crumbs he has brushed from his wonderful red suit of love.

What Now?

Delusions are inexhaustible.  I vow to end them.

challengesAs we awake from our distorted view of what it means to be a proud American it’s important to renew our faith in a Dream that Really Works.  Our leaders are calling for unity but have yet to define a true vision that could bring unity.  Unity can’t happen when some people are left out.  Unity can’t happen when civil rights are only for those holding the majority view of religion, ethnicity, gender identity, and country of origin.  The Constitution, we were taught, was written for everyone.  Although historically quite a few people were left out of that equation- African Americans, Native Americans, women, slaves, Asians, and anyone else considered less than or unimportant in the white, male dominated eighteenth century.  But it doesn’t have to stay that way!

A Dream that Really Works must take into consideration the very stuff that allows Life to Thrive.  The first step is providing all beings, not just human beings, with those things: Clean air, pure fresh water, an abundance of untainted food, a safe secure home, the ability to follow one’s true calling, the ability to be well and cared for in childhood, in sickness, in old age, and in death. And the ability to be free from unnecessary suffering; such as torture, beatings, name calling, profiling, bullying, unjust imprisonment, abandonment, and starvation.

With eyes wide open we can see that almost none of these basic life needs are being met for All People, let alone all beings- not here in the United States anyway.  If we actually want to unite in common cause this is the Dream we could attempt to implement.  This vision requires the decency of kindness, compassion, and a generosity of spirit unparalleled during any other time of history.  Perhaps it’s time for a new history…a history that doesn’t create pain and suffering for its citizens, that doesn’t marginalize people…a history that allows the word human to mean humane.

GoldenRuleThroughout time great beings have given us the formula for this dream.  Do, say, behave with others only in a way you would be willing to experience personally.  The earliest record of the existence of this blueprint for humane behavior was in ancient Egypt 1650 b.c.e.

 Empathy.  Walk a mile in another’s place. If our governmental leaders Really want to be a the leaders of all the people it would be a step in the right direction if they practiced the Golden Rule and then guided us on a journey so that all beings have what it takes to thrive.

We have a mountain of evil to remove from the consciousness of the world.  This mountain is created from enemy consciousness, misogyny, gender discrimination, white supremacy, greed, violence, and destruction of the Earth.  Prayer is the only force capable of crumbling that mountain.  Prayer first for compassion and empathy in Our Hearts. Then, Prayer to awaken compassion and empathy in All hearts.  If we have faith in the power of prayer, even if it is as tiny as a mustard seed, we can move that mountain!

Above all remember: WHEN THE WORLD IS TOO HARD TO STAND-

KNEEL AND PRAY FOR AWAKENING!

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Evolution or Entropy?

galaxy_universe-normalDivine Spirit is ever expanding, growing, and changing.  We know this because the universe is ever expanding, growing, and changing. However, in most cultural constructs the Divine Being is still portrayed as existing in a state of perfected beingness unattainable by mere human creatures, although everyone is expected to attempt this impossibility anyway.  If there is an all-knowing, all-seeing, absolutely perfect entity out there somewhere it means entropy has set in and god is dead!

As humans we appear to desire safety above all else.  We go to great lengths to be safe from loss, sickness, old age, and death.  We seek to eradicate illness, discover the fountain of youth through pills, creams, surgery, and research.  Most of us feel personally affronted and even betrayed by death. We want to find a perfect place, a perfect solution, a perfect life, a perfect family, and a perfect world.  Evolution is messy and often fails.  Statistics tell us that 13% of all species are evolving and out of those 90% will fail.  This means we are not safe.

know-your-enemy3It seems that throughout time, humans have felt compelled to create safety through the destruction of anything that is a threat to the status quo.  These threats can take the form of a neighbor, germs, immigrants, other nations, other faith groups, and even the self.  Language expresses these concepts of fear- demonic, heresy, abomination, anathema, bitch, bastard, ass-hole, etc.  And for many it is all justified in the name of a god who demands judgment, punishment, and retribution, now, or in some horrific hereafter.

What if Divine Spirit is not a perfect entity somewhere?  What if Divine Spirit is the indwelling force of compassion, forgiveness, understanding, and loving-kindness within all beings?  What if Divine Spirit is an ever expanding, evolutionary, and cosmic force that cannot be confined on a mountain top, within a temple, a church, or a book? Countless saints, from multitudinous religions, have confronted this great truth and called it the Divine Mystery or the Cloud of Unknowing.

c01a1693dfe1c8b5056996af742a754aWe are living in evolutionary times; in revolutionary times.  And yet, all around us we see people clinging to the old days, the old times, the mythical golden age of family, faith and country.  Was it really?  On closer look we see children abandoned, beaten, and starving.  We see animals tortured, experimented on, and killed to decorate someone’s wall.  Wars fought to bring change and leaving only poverty, disease, and destruction in there wake.  Women being raped, beaten, and sold into slavery…just like now.

Perhaps we need to look beyond the things that divide us.  Perhaps we need to look past gender identity, religious identity, national identity, and ideological identity.  We are being called to evolve into a people who identify with compassion, forgiveness, kindness, and generosity.  We are being called to live the Divine Mystery!

We don’t need someone with all the answers.  We need people to ask the right questions- People who know the earth as our sacred home- People who care enough to eradicate hunger, homelessness, and hopelessness!  We need young people to share their vision, to allow them to fire our passion and make a difference.  We need elders who are not content to be comfortable but are willing to lead us in a new spiritual consciousness of Love in Action!GalaticAlignEye

Evolution or Entropy?  Life or Death?  The choice is yours!

Why So Much Hatred?

Enemy consciousness is the desire to blame and punish others because we are feeling unsafe, emotionally distressed, and desperate to return to comfort and a modicum of happiness.  We see this in the political world around us.  We see the hatred and violence, the torture and death, of men, women, and children because they are perceived to be the enemy.  Most of us watch in horror the genocide, the persecutions, and the angry mob violence wondering how on earth humans could act in such evil and inhumane ways.

Punish Children With Right Method_1The root of enemy consciousness lies inside all of us.  When we are children and run to tell an adult that Johnny was pulling our hair or Suzy was pinching us we expected that Johnny and Suzy would be punished.  They would “get into trouble” for what they had done.  We quickly learned to avoid trouble ourselves, or at least not get caught doing something, in order to avoid punishment.  And although we never wanted to be punished even through time-outs, being grounded, or deprived of something important to us, we were glad someone else got what they deserved.

We have been well-trained to find someone to blame when we are unhappy and to fill our prisons with those who dare to make us uncomfortable.  Prison is seldom a place of rehabilitation.  Its purpose, as most prisoners will tell you, is to punish the offender.  Desperate people do desperate things.  Probably you and I have never advocated for someone to go to prison for harming us.  Instead we shut our mind, our hearts, and our willingness to associate with, listen to, or forgive those who have offended against us.  We imprison them within our mind and keep them there so we will be safe.

When we feel betrayed we want that person out of our lives.  When we feel disrespected we want others to be told that they are bad.  We have learned to associate mostly with those who reward us with affection, listening, appreciation, and respect.  We have learned to disassociate with anyone who appears to disagree, disapprove, disrespect, or not like us.

socialoutcastWhen people in the Dharma Center make errors of judgment, cause emotional harm to others, break the rules, and step out of bounds their fellow sangha members often want to have that person disgraced, brought to a public accounting, or dismissed from a circle.  Even those with deep spiritual training often have difficulty overcoming the conditioning to demand punishment.  Fortunately, our spiritual teachers are not swayed by the Sangha’s emotional demands and upsets.  Instead they offer restorative justice.  Restorative means: gentle, kind, generous, harmless, and curable.  Justice means: fair, equal, impartial, honorable, and right.  They guide us back into acceptance, into love, and into unity.

“If people are cast out of the circle of love because they have caused harm, how will those people learn forgiveness, kindness, and honor?”  Maha Amma

When harm is created everyone must try to understand how they contributed to the creation of that harm and seek compassion, understanding, and forgiveness for themselves and for the other; only in this way will unity and goodness be restored.”  Maha Abba

GoldenRule-2As we watch, in disbelief and horror, the speech and actions of angry, fearful people let us take a moment and look at the darkness in our own hearts.  When we find it let us bring the light of hope, compassion, and generosity into that angry, fearful place within.  We can remind ourselves that we really don’t want to give away to others grief, hurt, and actions that we would not wish to experience for ourselves.  Enemy Consciousness is a weed with deep roots.  If we want it to die we must stop watering it with personal insecurities, emotional traumas, blame, guilt, and angry.  And instead truly practice what has become known over the centuries as: The Golden Rule.

The Mud at the Bottom of the Pond

Enlightenment is knowledge previously undiscovered but now exists as new consciousness. It’s a new understanding of the world.  Let’s take medical knowledge for example.  It’s now possible for people who have joint pain to have their joints replaced.  What has been the result of this enlightenment?  Freedom from pain; longer life; ability to have quality of life.  In other words it helps people to flourish.

Enlightenment, therefore, helps us to flourish as spirit beings.  Enlightenment allows us to be pain free and assist others to be pain free.  

When enlightenment occurs, even in a mundane way, it’s not universally accepted and there are challenges to the manifestation and acceptance of the new knowledge.  In order to live our lives as the Avatars of Divine Spirit we are being challenged to modify thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in order to bring them into alignment with Divine Spirit rather than following our own ideas of how things should work.  To discover this Divine Spirit alignment is as simple as asking these questions- how is this kind to myself and others?  What does this decision have to do with creating more peace or love in the world?  Who will be helped?  Who will be left out?

The enlightenment process requires extreme vigilance of our mental and emotional states of being as well as our true motivations for taking action.  It’s important to be accountable for the decisions we make.  We are trained to believe that what we think is real, that what we feel is real, and what our body tells us is absolute. However, thoughts are an illusion of organic mind, emotions come and go for no apparent reason, and our body reacts to situations that are not factual.  Think of the last time you had a body reaction to a stick thinking it was a snake.

mud-mud-glorious-mud-11As in all times when we begin to embark upon a new enlightened state of consciousness, a time of initiation into that enlightenment, we are most likely going to experience a stirring up of the mud at the bottom of our pond.  The mud at the bottom of the pond colors the way we perceive the world.  During a time of expanded consciousness, it’s important to pause, to consider results, to consult with wise individuals, and to understand motivations BEFORE reacting from what we are feeling.  This is because once we have new insight we must integrate those understandings into our life.  Having a moment of enlightenment doesn’t mean it will last.  Having a moment of enlightenment that leads us to make, and manifest, transformational, permanent changes in our life anchors that knowledge into reality.

ANY strong emotion is a problem.  Love, joy, delight, anger, fear, pain, and grief- any strong emotion is a problem.  Love can be a problem.  When we are overpowered with “true love” we make impulsive decisions.  The emotion of “true love” “romantic love” wears off and what we have left will determine if the two people can continue in relationship or not.   Long term relationships can only be based on the fact that we actually like the other person and that person actually likes us also.

Consider- Emotion simply exists and it is totally up to us what we will make of it.

When there is a lot of mud stirred up at the bottom of the pond there is a real need to not make decisions from anger, pain, grief, disillusionment, resentment, and victimization.  These are the emotions arising when the mud of unconscious emotions are stirred up at the bottom of the pond.  When this happens we usually respond from one of two ways- Depression because we think we are at fault, or Anger and Blame because we believe whatever has happened is someone else’s fault.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaalpaaaajgy1nzgxm2y1lty5mgytndnjms1izgq3lwyyztlmmtu4yzywygTO BE ENLIGHTENED WE MUST DISCOVER THE MUD IN US!

It’s helpful to try and use muddy times to focus on Evolution rather than going to Hell and taking others with you.  Try to imagine what it means to be Sacred.  Imagine that you can accept yourself.  Imagine that you are able to truly live from your heart so you can act from your ancient wisdom.  When you live from your heart you are listening with the ears of Divine Spirit. You are listening for love, joy, and peace!  You are not listening for insults, judgments, and anger.  You are not afraid of dark entities or evil times.

If we are reacting to life rather than actually choosing life, we are not free.  There is a lot of talk about free will and being free to do what we want to do rather than what some authority tells us to do.  But we are programmed into following the path of least resistance- meaning we do the same things we have always done, think the thoughts we have always thought, tell the stories we have always told, and react the way we always react- this means we no longer understand the meaning of Free Will. 

The Path of Spirit is not there- EVER- to make your life work.  It is there so we have somewhere to stand when our life does not work.  It is the foundation on which we can depend because the Dharma will tell us what to do to restore ourselves to peace, compassion, kindness, and love.

Any Path that tells us that we can have what we want if we follow the proper forms, say the approved prayers, and believe in the correct god, is lying.  Life is not Safe.  There are no guarantees.  We cannot buy enough insurance or say enough prayers to make life safe.

Ash-E-Tah- I accept what is happening.  I don’t like what is happening.  And none of my emotions about this event matter because I will choose to do what is right according to the Dharma of my Spiritual Path even if that does not make me happy right this moment.

Healing restores us to wholeness.  It does not make us perfect.

To learn to Accept the self means accepting all of the self, including our ancient darkness.  We recognize our muddy pond and decide to grow a lotus.  Acceptance means to stop placing blame on others- our mother, father, teachers, friends, spouse, neighbors, or anyone else.  Blaming others will not help us have a better life- changing ourselves and the way we interpret life will help us have a better life.

ENLIGHTENMENT- See it.  Recognize what it is.  Accept what it is. Change it if necessary.  Then you can expand, grow, and be who it is possible for you to be.  Remember it only matters what you DO with what you FEEL.

enlightenment-vs-wisdomThe Path of Enlightenment is for those who are strong enough to follow the Path of Self Questioning.  Yes- question authority.  Your authority-for you are the greatest authority in your life…you always believe you know what everything means.  Do you every question your own authority or do you assume you should not be questioned because you know the truth?  Imagine asking yourself hard questions about what is truly right and not just what feels right in the moment.  Are you choosing from Divine Spirit’s Way of love, joy, and peace?  Or are you choosing from your will, your way, and your story about the way thing should be?